Eight months in: What have we been up to?

Project leader’s note

By project leader Hakan G. Sicakkan. Photo: Eivind Senneset

PROTECT had an excellent kick-off with a conference at the Royal Academies in Brussels on 9 March 2020. We saw already then that we were operating in a tough global-politics context. Feedback and support from stakeholders like the UNHCR, the European Commission, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, and the international scientific community showed us we were focusing on not only scientifically but also politically and practically relevant aspects of international protection.

Although many conference-registrants were not able to participate physically because of the Covid-19 lockdowns that started just before the kick-off date, many stakeholders that we wanted to reach were there with us. After the kick-off, we used the first six months of the project to develop our research, communication, and coordination tools and to extend our international stakeholder network.

Our theory and concept papers, survey questionnaires, big media-data and institutional data collection grids, interview guides, and detailed research plans including Covid-19 contingency plans are now in place. Starting in September, we will collect and analyze data.

As the second wave of the pandemic is underway, we may have to either postpone or digitize some of the activities that require face-to-face interactions. Despite this, we are confident that we will be able to conduct much of our research as planned and present the preliminary results to the international community in our mid-term conference in Toronto in August 2021.

I have previously initiated and led two other large-scope projects funded by the European Union’s framework programs. I have also seen many other international projects in operation. But I have never seen a project group and coordination staff with this level of relevant skills, enthusiasm, engagement, curiosity, and willingness to collaborate.

This is why I believe we are able to make significant discoveries about how to navigate strategically within today’s turbulent global politics, which legal and institutional frames to adopt, which transnational networks and alliances to build, and which discourses to endorse and promote, in order to achieve the goals of the United Nations’ Global Compact on Refugees.

I truly look forward to seeing the first results of my colleagues’ research and to contributing to their work in all the ways that I can.

Hakan G. Sicakkan, project leader of PROTECT.

PROTECT was officially launched in February 2020. Since then, the PROTECT researchers have been working and researching remotely during the Corona-induced lockdowns, which have affected countries and institutions in many ways. Despite the unusual circumstances, the consortium has progressed with their research and respective Work Packages and Deliverables – all while exploring new digital spaces for interaction and sharing across countries and time zones. Below you can explore the status and progress of PROTECT’s individual Work Packages and read about what is next on the agenda for our researchers.

WP1: Developing theoretical, conceptual and methodological approaches to international protection

The main objective of Work Package 1 (WP1)  is to develop theoretical, conceptual and methodological approaches to international protection as well as a comparative research design that address the challenges posed by the current politically turbulent context, linking the different work packages to each other and to the main research question.

Central to the Work Package is developing a synthesis of Stein Rokkan’s cleavage theory, an extended version of Chantal Mouffe’s agonistic public sphere theory, normative political theory and empirical refugee studies, applying them to a global scale in order to understand states’ behaviors and preferences in relation to global refugee protection.

The Work Package is led by the project leader, Hakan G. Sicakkan from the University of Bergen and Idil Atak from Ryerson University. During the project’s first months, the researchers involved in WP1 have submitted two deliverables to the European Commission.

Dario Mazzola.

Dario Mazzola, one of PROTECT’s two Executive Scientific Coordinators elaborates on the progress of WP1:

– The project leader has produced both the Overall Theoretical Perspective (D1.1) and the Overall Comparative Research Design (D1.2). While the former piece lays out the foundations and overarching concepts around which PROTECT is articulated, the latter is especially focused on pinning down conflict groups and philosophies of citizenship whose interplay interprets, articulates and contests the right to international protection, says Mazzola.

Mazzola continues to stress that although the Work Package is based on desk research, it has not been unaffected by the consequences of the Covid crisis:

– At first blush, one might assume that desk study suffers less from the implication of the pandemic. However, throughout the semester we had to respond to both the reorganization of research which affected the entire academic community and the new theoretical challenges raised by putting rights to international mobility and protection in the context of this new era, explains Mazzola.

He highlights PROTECT’s weekly seminars as important channels for cross-consortium collaborations on such matters (read more in the right column).

Despite being in a preparatory and initial stage, the theoretical foundation of PROTECT has attracted interest from fellow academics beyond the Consortium.

In August, PROTECT’s project leader presented the paper ‘A Political Cleavage Approach to the Impact of UN Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees’ at the ECPR virtual General Conference, inviting fellow panelists to interact with PROTECT’s global application of Rokkan’s cleveages.

The next milestone ahead for the WP1-researchers is Deliverable 1.3, which is the first draft of the Overall Framework to be used in the final study:

– It could sound as a daunting task given the breadth and innovation of PROTECT, but the goals already secured and our passion for this extremely important and topical research push us vigorously forward, concludes Mazzola.

WP2: The impacts of the GRC and GMC on the right to international protection: interactions with pre-existing legal frames of protection

Work Package 2 (WP2) studies the legal implications of the two Compacts and their impact on the functioning of the current international refugee protection rules and practices across Europe, South Africa, and Canada.

The researchers involved in the Work Package have spent the project’s initial phase on creating a research outline for the Work Package and plan the two initial Expert Fora to be held in November 2020 and July 2021.

The Expert fora constitute the bedrock of the Work Package. Not only will they create important points of contact between the PROTECT Consortium and stakeholders to discuss the potentials of the Compacts, their outcomes will also form the bases for further and wider academic exploration and analyses of the issues raised and discussed at the fora (see more in the tab below).

WP2’s newly assembled research outline describes the cross-country case studies the researchers will engage in, which seek to map and analyze the Compacts’ legal impacts across Canada, South-Africa and the EU, allowing the researchers to explore specific issues within different countries and regions such as identifying current challenges to international protection, the presence of the Compacts in the political and social discourse, and their potential for reducing threats towards international protection.

The case studies will also render visible potential cleavages between globalist and nativist arguments and tendencies present in the discourse of international protection across the countries investigated.

Professor Elspeth Guild from the Queen Mary University of London, UK and Professor Jürgen Bast from Giessen University, Germany lead the Work Package.

Elspeth Guild. Photo: Kingsley Napley

Elspeth Guild explains that the attention and scope of the upcoming Expert Forum in Geneva in November has been affected by the covid-19 induced border closures – and lockdowns and their consequences for migrants and refugees:

– When the project commenced no one anticipated the pandemic. Physical obstacles to movement, lockdowns, and the hardening of EU external border controls, including the Italian government’s decision to stop all disembarkation at the southern Mediterranean ports on Covid-19 ground, have complicated the lives of people fleeing persecution where their hopes are based on arriving in Europe, says Guild.

Guild also explains that reduced physical interaction in the times of Covid-19 has further complicated the existing public discourse on migration and refugee protection, particularly because discussions now largely take place on online fora:

– In terms of examining European state duties to provide protection to those in need, with particular focus on the impact of a turbulent political climate, this has not been strait forward. The nationalist and populist tendencies are more present online than in person, or at the ballot box, and the move of so much of daily contact online has not simplified the presentation of arguments in favor of refugees and their reception, Guild says.

Guild says that these topics will be important discussion points during the upcoming Expert Forum in Geneva in November, which the WP2-researchers co-host with Professor Sandra Lavenex from the University of Geneva, who is also a member of PROTECT’s International Advisory Board.

The Expert Fora will bring together important stakeholders on international protection and human rights, including academics, parliamentarians, policy makers, jurists, and civil society actors. Through panels and presentations, stakeholders and WP2 researchers will explore the added value of the Compacts in creating inter-state solidarity on issues concerning international refugee protection and burden-sharing and explore their impact on already existing rules and practices within the EU and globally. 

> See full program for PROTECT’s first Expert Forum

PROTECT’s first Expert Forum explores EU’s asylum practices and challenges in light of the obligations and principles articulated in the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 2018 Global Compacts on Migrants and Refugees – and the potential impacts of the latter agreements in creating a just and effective global asylum agenda.

The event is hosted by PROTECT partner and Professor, Elspeth Guild and Professor, Sandra Lavenex from the University of Geneva.

WP3: The impacts of the GRC and GMC on the governance of international protection: institutional architectures of asylum determination

Work Package 3 (WP3) looks into the institutional architecture of asylum determination procedures to assess whether it affects the governance of international protection and its outcomes.

– We aim to assess whether the eligibility policy of an institution dedicated solely to protect human rights will be different than an institution whose mission is broader. Although this issue is not addressed in the Global Compact on Refugees our hypothesis is that it matters for refugees, explains Professor Frank Caestecker from Ghent University in Belgium, who co-leads the Work Package together with Hakan G. Sicakkan from the University of Bergen, Norway.

Frank Caestecker. Photo: DeMorgen

Another important aspect of the Work Package is comparing the effect that different institutional architectures in different countries have on the outcomes of the Refugee Status Determination process.

Pierre Van Wolleghem from the University of Bergen, who is one of PROTECT’s two Executive Scientific Coordinators and heavily involved in the research of WP3, elaborates:

– Whereas scholars have studied the factors that lead to different outcomes from one country to another, there is very little evidence on the impact of their institutional architectures on status recognition rates. Yet, recognition of protection status is the end result of the Refugee Status Determination process, explains Van Wolleghem.

Pierre Van Wolleghem

Throughout PROTECT’s first few months the WP3 researchers have worked together to assemble a research outline, literature review and data grid to give direction to the progress of the Work Package.

This includes reviewing existing literature within disciplines such as ethnography, law, public management, political science, sociology, and history, to name but a few.

– We have also looked at a wide range of qualitative and quantitative studies to draw the state of knowledge on variation in states’ refugee recognition rates, and to identify the gaps in literature, says Van Wolleghem.

– In so doing, we have detected where we can contribute to a better understanding of how asylum institutions function in the interests of refugees, continues Caestecker.

The researchers from Ghent and Bergen also have dived into historical literature and archival material to understand the internal functioning of EU asylum institutions in the past:

– The late 1980s and early 1990s, before the EU became competent in immigration and asylum matters, have turned out to be an important period for the contemporary shape of the asylum institution in the European Union, says Caestecker.

– An in-depth analysis of countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Poland, Italy will investigate the origin, power, and functioning of the asylum institutions since the 1990s and the consequences of the nature of these institutions on the quality of international protection, he continues.

As for the consequences of the Covid-19 lockdown, Caestecker explains that the WP’s cross-country desk research has not been affected.

– The archival research on the other hand, has been slightly hampered by the lockdowns, he says.

– Nonetheless, the WP3 researchers are on track with their investigation of the impacts of the two Compacts on the governance of international protection, Caestecker concludes.

WP4: The impacts of the GRC and GMC on the governance of international protection: fieldwork studies of governance in practice

The social anthropologists of Work Package 4 (WP4) study the impacts of the Compacts on the ground through ethnographic fieldwork in the EU’s, Canada’s and South Africa’s entry ports for refugees and migrants.

Through a bottom-up approach they will assess how key actors and stakeholders involved in field level governance understand and apply the notions of vulnerability and specific needs, and how networks of international, national and local actors working in the field level governance collaborate to address and reduce vulnerabilities.

Professor Christine M. Jacobsen from the University of Bergen, Norway co-leads the Work Package along with Jo Vearey from Wits University, South Africa.

Jacobsen explains that the researchers involved in WP4 have spent the initial months on preparatory tasks, such as creating a research outline and data collection frame, interview guides and report templates.

Christine M. Jacobsen. Photo: University of Bergen.

This work also includes a thorough outline of how the researchers will approach concept of vulnerability, a concept that has developed multifaceted and elastic meanings within both migration and refugee literature and research and Global Compacts themselves. 

WP4-researcher Marry Anne Karlsen explains that WP4 will not  apply a particular  definition  of  vulnerability in the field.

Marry-Anne Karlsen. Photo: University of Bergen.

We seek  to  explore how  vulnerability  is  understood and  operationalized  in  field  level  governance and want to investigate aspects like how  is vulnerability understood –by both migrants and migration governance actors -on the ground? How  is  this  vulnerability  performed?  How  do  notions  of  vulnerabilities  and  specific  needs inform, and how are they informed by, governance networks at the local level? Are there any adverse effects related to how vulnerability is operationalized in the different contexts?

The global pandemic has had inevitable consequences for the ethnographers and the qualitative research of WP4, continues co-leader Christine Jacobsen. This includes moving the initial phase of their fieldwork online:  

Numerous practical and ethical challenges arise from the requirement to be present in the field sites for extended periods of time, in close proximity with research participants through interviews and participant observation, she says. 

The first round of fieldwork, which was planned for November and December 2020, has been moved online. This means that we will do an initial identification and mapping of relevant organizations based on website and document analysis, and preliminary phone interviews during the Autumn of 2020. We hope that we will be able to carry out in-site fieldwork in 2021, Jacobsen explains. 

In addition to planning their upcoming fieldwork, the researchers of WP4 have been active contributors on the PROTECT blog, among the topics they have addressed are the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in a range of countries.

Click on the posts to read more:

WP5: The impacts of the GRC and GMC on civil societies’ recognition the right to international protection

Work Package 5 (WP5) seeks to understand the role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in international migration and how different organizations position and ideologies contribute to shaping policy, public narratives, and the practical implementation Global Compacts. 

The Work Package is co-led between Professor Simon Usherwood from the University of Surrey, UK and Francesca Longo from the University of Catania, Italy.

  Work Package 5 has made excellent progress during the first months of PROTECT with partners at Surrey and Catania formulating their survey design, agreeing target organizations and securing ethics approval, says Simon Usherwood. 

Simon Usherwood. Photo: University of Surrey

With a fully online approach, the teams have been able to continue their work with minimal disruption from Covid-19 and is set to put the survey into the field during this autumn, says Usherwood. 

The list of CSOs to be surveyed has been gathered by Work Package 7 researchers through AI-driven tools (read more below).

 We will soon begin to send out the survey to the list and collect responses. The survey  is expected to provide a wide-reaching coverage of CSO activity, but there will be a number of interviews to follow-up with a sub-set of groups in order to increase more insight into their work, elaborates WP5’s other co-leader, Professor Francesca Longo.

Francesca Longo

At this aim, Surrey and Catania will agree a short list of groups for interviewing, together with a division of conducting these, taking into account other work required within the WP and our geographic locations. Catania will produce a first draft of an interview question schedule for discussion during the summer, says Longo. 

In addition to her involvement in surveying CSOs’ attitudes to international refugee protection, Professor Longo has also offered her expertise in EU’s external relations, which is a central component of Work Package 3 (read more above).

In August Longo joined a PROTECT-heavy panel for the annual (and virtual) ECPR General Conference, presenting her paper ‘UN Global Compact on Refugees and its Relevance for the External Dimension of the EU’s Asylum Policy’.

The paper was part of the panel ‘The politics of International Protection: New Perspectives in the Post-Global Compacts Era’. Joining her were project leader Professor Hakan G. Sicakkan and Dr. Dario Mazzola.  

Read more about the PROTECT panel and papers 

WP6: The impact of the GRC and GMC on the citizens’ recognition of the right to international protection

– We have achieved good progress in Work Package 6. Most importantly, we have designed the survey, which is rather comprehensive and covers many dimensions of immigration sentiments, says co-leader Cornelius Cappelen from the University of Bergen, Norway about the status and progress of Work Package 6.

Beyond a thorough investigation of observables such as age, income, and gender, the aim of this Work Package is twofold, explains Cappelen’s Bergen colleague, Pierre Van Wolleghem:

– Firstly, it studies people’s attitudes to international protection as a function of their placement in the global and national cleavage system. The survey also includes questions to capture the respondents’ political preferences on the national political stage and on the global political order, says Van Wolleghem.

Cornelius Cappelen. Photo: University of Bergen.

Pierre Van Wolleghem

The survey seeks to reveal this through a set of nativist sentiments, adds Cappelen:

– These are both political, such as ‘should politicians always act in accordance with their country’s national interests?’ and civic, like ‘should all citizens in a given countries have the same citizen rights?’

Secondly, explains Van Wolleghem, WP6 uses this information to investigate people’s sentiments towards burden- and responsibility-sharing, which are core features of the Global Compact on Refugees. To do so, the WP6 researchers rely on a set of survey experiments:

– These experiments ask whether citizens feel like we all have a duty to share the responsibility of supporting the world’s refugees and if so – what the nature of these duties should be, explains Cappelen.

– In one experiment we investigate how people make a trade-off between receiving reallocated immigrants on the one hand and paying their way out of this responsibility on the other. The treatment in this experiment is simply the financial burden of choosing the latter option, which differ between three randomized groups, he explains.

In addition to the experiments the WP6 researchers have included a set of false positives and false negatives, measuring how participants trade them off against each other in relation to asylum policies:

– We measure what they think is worse: That an asylum-seeker who meets the conditions for being recognized as a refugee is not granted asylum: false negative, or that an asylum seeker who does not meet the conditions is granted asylum: false positive, says Cappelen.

The survey also addresses citizens’ attitudes to different mechanisms for responsibility sharing – and to refugee treatment:

– We want to investigate whether citizens prefer to admit more asylum seekers rather than donating money to countries hosting large numbers of refugees. We also want to see how citizens think refugees should be treated once they have been admitted to their country: are they positive towards giving them access to education, competence-building and job-seeking on equal terms as native citizens? Perhaps they might even be in favor of offering them special privileges beyond native citizens’ entitlements, says Cappelen.

Cappelen says that there have been no delays for WP6 researchers despite the unusual circumstances. The researchers are now in the process of wrapping up the survey provider competition:

– Soon we will have picked a survey firm for the implementation of the survey. It will be fielded spring 2021 in a minimum of 16 countries, says Cappelen.

WP7: The impact of the GRC and GMC on the recognition of the right to international protection in the public sphere

Work Package 7 (WP7) uses Big Data technologies to map prevailing discourses on international protection in national media and social media and the actors involved in shaping them. The Work Package is co-led by Professor Anamaria Dutceac Segesten from Lund University, Sweden and Professor Slavko Splichal and Dr. Boris Mance from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Over the past months, the Wp7-researchers have collected data on social media discourses on global refugee protection using Brandwatch, a powerful social media analytics tool which tracks digital conversations on a range of platforms. 

Anamaria Dutceac Segesten. Photo: Lund University

Work Package co-leader, Anamaria Dutceac Segesten explains that the pandemic has somewhat affected the progress of this work:

Covid-19 set back the social media data collection because priority was given to research projects collecting data on the pandemic specifically, resulting in our project being pushed at the back of the queue for approval for data collection through Twitter. 

Once that hurdle was overcome, we took part in a Brandwatch training session and began the data collection via the Brandwatch dashboard, she says. 

The researchers have already completed the largest chunk of data gathering, resulting in an impressive number of online mentions of the key words used:  

We ran an English-language query for terms associated with the theme ‘UN’ and ‘refugee+migrant, which resulted in 14 million mentions on Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, and Facebook, plus digital forums and blogs. These mentions originate from two million unique authors over a five year period from 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2019, explains the Dutceac Segesten. 

We have also compiled a list of organizations, including civil society organizations, that have been active in online and media discourses on the UN, refugees and migrants over the last five years, says Dutceac Segesten.

In addition to using Brandwatch, the researchers have also used the media tracking tool Event Registry for this purpose, which monitors 30 000 online news sources worldwide. Over the past five years, almost 300 million news items have been registered on the platform, allowing comprehensive analyses of news outlets worldwide. 

The list of CSOs generated from Brandwatch and Event Registry forms the basis for the research of Work Package 5, which surveys civil society organizations’ role in international migration and how they shape policy, public narratives, and the practical implementation Global Compact on Refugees. 

In the upcoming months the WP7-researchers will work with data protection and ethics requirements – they are also expanding their team: 

Lund University has assigned a Data Protection Officer to the project, we are now in the process of evaluation of our Data Protection Agreement and the corresponding ethical requirements. In the time to come we will complete the data collection for additional languages besides English and put up a job announcement for a postdoc, position starting 1 January 2021, concludes Dutceac Segesten. 

See PROTECT’s job openings

WP9: Dissemination, Communication and Exploitation of Knowledge

Work Package 9 (WP9) is dedicated to communication, dissemination and exploitation of results. It is co-led between Idil Atak from Ryerson University, Canada and Simon Usherwood from the University of Surrey, UK, whereas a designated Communications Coordinator at the University of Bergen leads the overall communications work.

Mari Lund Eide. Photo: Nord University

PROTECT’s Communications Coordinator Mari Lund Eide explains that the project has spent its first months on establishing contact with target audiences:

– Our website and social media platforms now function as important links between our researchers, their output, and relevant stakeholders who are interested in our findings or activities. We have also built up a considerable list of followers in each channel.

Since the project launching in February and the official kick-off in Brussels in March, the PROTECT Consortium has engaged in collaborative activities with stakeholders such as UNHCR and ECRE, both represented by keynote speakers at the PROTECT kick-off conference in Brussels.

In video interviews from the kick-off conference, the Head of Policy and Legal Affairs of UNHCR’s Brussels office, Sophie Magennis and ECRE’s General Director Catherine Woollard both stressed the importance and relevance of PROTECT research for their work as policy makers.

– PROTECT was also invited to participate in the World Refugee Day Campaign hosted by UNHCR in June to shed light on the rising number of global displacement. This was an important occasion for our researchers to engage in the current conversation on refugee protection and displacement – and highlight the importance of the research that we do, says Eide.

– We have also participated in webinars, round tables, and conferences where we have disseminated our research, says Eide.

On PROTECT’s YouTube-channel, videos of the events are available.

The Covid-19 crisis called for a quick launching of the PROTECT blog where several researchers addressed the pandemic’s consequences for the world’s migrants and refugees. Now, blog posts are both read and shared widely, explains Eide:

– Our Consortium has actively utilized the PROTECT blog as a dissemination platform since the very start. We have covered a range of topical issues such as how migrant and refugee populations have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the newly launched EU budget, the 2020 EASO report, and on migrants’ and refugees’ lived experiences of racism and discrimination, to mention some, says Eide.

In the upcoming months the PROTECT researchers will disseminate their research through both online and physical channels. First comes promotion of PROTECT’s Expert Forum:

– Our WP2 researchers are gathering important stakeholders for an Expert Forum to exchange ideas and conversations on the implementation and challenges of the Compacts, an event which will form the basis for important interaction with actors involved in refugee protection in different ways, concludes Eide.

WP11: Ethics Requirements

Work Package 11 (WP11) is the project’s working branch encompassing all ethics deliverables, such as processes, procedures, consultations, and evaluations, whose purpose is to scrutinize the project and advise the researchers so to minimize or eliminate risks and dangers for research subjects, handling of their personal data, and researchers themselves.

Dario Mazzola from the University of Bergen, Norway, is one of Executive Scientific Coordinator of PROTECT. He has coordinated the progress of WP11 across the project and its partners and elaborates on the process so far:

The Bergen Coordination Office started the relative procedures in April and May by contacting all partners and the Bergen Data Protection Officer (DPO). The DPO is a specialist in personal data and privacy protection appointed by the University to guarantee compliance with both the national laws and regulations and the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which entered into force between 2016 and 2018, says Mazzola.

Dario Mazzola.

One of WP11’s deliverables entails documentation of the appointment of a dedicated DPO at each partner university in charge of overseeing data protection in the context of the project’s research activities and whom researchers and research subjects can make appeal to in case of doubts or complaints.

– Several partners also had to assess the risks posed by their research activities by performing a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) and produce all information sheets and consent forms needed to ensure research activities are undertaken transparently, with the full awareness and consent of the subjects, continues Mazzola.

With the collection of information sheets and consent forms, the documentation of the appointments of DPOs, the completion of the Ethics Committee and the obtainment of ethics appraisals all the WP11 deliverables necessary to the project have been submitted:

– We can then say that our project is now well-situated in its starting blocks, including for the most sensitive, empirical parts, says Mazzola who highlights that the pandemic has affected several aspects of PROTECT’s ethical work and processes:

– Our researchers had to rethink their methodologies due to Covid-19 restrictions. Ethical boards have also been delayed in their meetings due to the shutting of facilities or to the urgent prioritization of evaluations of Covid-related research, this latter a measure which sustained academic and scientific responses to the epidemic, says Mazzola.

Nonetheless, all clearance documents have been provided over the summer.

During the project’s first months a Research Ethics and Gender Board (REGBOARD) has been established and an Independent Ethics Adviser has been appointed. The latter, Emanuela Ceva, recently gave an interview on the importance of such a role in a large H2020 project.

Mazzola looks ahead on the work to come, emphasizing a continued focus on ethics and the principle of transparency:

– PROTECT’s ethical work has merely started. The Project’s ethical and political exposure, interactions with vulnerable research subjects, and its innovatory data-analysis techniques require it to be constantly monitored, as we will do.

Digital interaction in pandemic times

By Executive Scientific Coordinator Pierre Van Wolleghem

During the lockdown period the PROTECT researchers have interacted weekly during our project seminars, each focused on different aspects and Work Packages of our project.

The global pandemic has profoundly affected the way workers go about their tasks. In the face of unprecedented conditions, the coordination staff of PROTECT decided to put in place online weekly seminars as a way to stay connected with its researchers, be they located a couple of kilometers or thousands of kilometres away from each other. Thanks to the incredible commitment and enthusiasm of PROTECT’s researchers, these seminars turned out to be a formidable tool to share and discuss our progress in a friendly and constructive manner.

Several of the seminars have been made available on PROTECT’s social media as video and audio presentations. Among these are Professor Elspeth Guild’s discussion on the status of international protection of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers during the Corona lockdown and Dr. Boris Mance presentation of the digital platform Event Registry, which is deployed by PROTECT’s Ljubljana and Lund team to map actors and discourses present in traditional media and social media currently shaping the discourse on international protection of refugees. Dr. Daniela Irrera, expert of the role of NGOs and representing the University of Catania team, gave a presentation on the changing role of NGOs during the Corona lockdown, explaining that NGOs are playing a bigger and more innovative role in global crisis management in the absence of active state actors.

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